Farfatelle, Wandi, Guanti – different names, but the same delicious treat
We walk Biscotti sidewalks, Cannoli-lined streets through neighborhoods with rows and rows of Tiramisu—now spotting the lovely piles of Farfatelle that dot neighborhood lawns. Although a simple dessert, these adorable love knot/bow tie cookies make such beautiful arrangements. The sugar sprinkled on top of them looks like a light dusting of newly fallen snow, or even a sheen seen after a heavy dew under the early morning sun. What a wonderful sight to behold!
The next stop on our Italian dessert tour…Farfatelle…requires quite a bit of research. If you search for the term “Farfatelle” it will probably bring up pasta results, as that seems to be the Italian name for the popular bow tie pasta we use in so many recipes today. Well, far be it from me to stop there, for I am a stubborn man! As I continued to dig, the illusory “Farfatelle” continued to confuse me. Finally! Something popped up that led me to a scant history of this Italian dessert. It appears that the original name of this cookie was growing up which I soon realized was an Americanized term Gloves, as there is no “w” in the Italian language. the word Glovestranslates to “gloves” and is so named because the cookie resembles two hands clasped together…hence the OTHER name for this cookie…Italian Love Knot Cookies.
My search for the history of Farfatel revealed an old, Catholic tradition called the Table of Saint Joseph. St. Joseph’s Day is now celebrated in Italy on March 19, but here in the United States, the celebration of St. Joseph is greatly overshadowed by the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day, the patron saint of green beer. In Italy, however, the Sicilian people celebrate and recreate the Holy Family. The feast around the table or buffet of St. Joseph originated in Sicily with a banquet provided for “those whom St. Joseph would invite”…the poor, the blind, the lame, the homeless, etc. It is said that the rich prepare a banquet of traditional foods and serve it to the guests. The dinner begins with a play in which the villagers portray Joseph, Mary and Jesus during the meal. In Italy it is a much celebrated holiday, but here in the United States it is rarely, if ever, heard of.
Here is the recipe I found. I doubt you’ll find it in a cookbook anywhere, though. It seems to be largely passed down from memory through the generations.
Bow Cookies (Agriculture)
1 ½ cups flour – sifted
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
3 tablespoons Crisco
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup powdered sugar
Oil for deep frying
Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Using a pastry blender or butter knife, add Crisco to the flour mixture in cutting motions. Do this until the mixture is well combined. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Turn the dough out onto a floured board or surface and knead until pliable. The dough should then be allowed to rest for an hour or more.
After letting the dough rest, divide and roll the dough pieces into an 8 x 10 inch rectangle. Now cut the dough into strips 8 inches long and approximately ¾ inch wide. Tie the ribbons in loose knots.
Heat the oil on the stove or in a deep fryer. Fry each knot until it turns a lovely golden brown. Remove the knot from the deep-frying oil with a slotted spoon or spatula. Let them drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle them liberally with powdered sugar.
A variation of this recipe could be to use a combination of cinnamon and granulated sugar to sprinkle them. Colored candies can also be used to increase the appeal of the cookie.
Enjoy making this cookie with your kids. It can take some bonding time to get the knots ready for the deep fryer and the kids LOVE to sprinkle the sugar…and the mess…well what can I say! A little cleaning sugar is a great trade-off for quality time with your kids, especially during the holiday season.
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